Obama himself sought to put some distance between himself and the award, saying, “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but a recognition of the role of American leadership” in the world.

“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures” who won in the past, Obama said at the White House. “I will accept this award as a call to action, a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”

And seemingly mindful of the political risks involved, he seemed to go out of his way to puncture the solemnity of the moment, joking that it was also a good day because it’s his dog Bo’s birthday.